Audi hybrids win 24 Hours of Le Mans

Audi hybrids win Le MansIn an historic first, an Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro became the first hybrid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. A second hybrid followed the winning car to the podium, while a conventional, diesel-powered Audi placed third.

Fittingly Audi No. 1, driven by the team of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, and Benoit Treyuler, came first, completing 378 laps in 24 hours. The No.2 Audi, driven by Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen, and Alan McNish, placed second.

Le Mans is one of oldest, and most challenging, races on the international circuit. As a 24-hour endurance race, it puts drivers’ stamina to the test.

A few mistakes nearly cost the Audi No.1 team the win. Fassler spun the car in the 14th hour, giving the lead to McNish. He later drove into the gravel, damaging the R18’s rear bodywork. Treyuler also spun the car, in the 21st hour. McNish hit a wall in his No.2 car, causing some bodywork damage.

Audi was not the only car company to field a hybrid at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately, rival Toyota’s TS030 was plagued by crashes. At the end of the fifth hour, Toyota No. 8 was bumped by another car, sending it flying into the tire barrier. The race was stopped for 75 minutes to clean up the wreckage. “Well that was a big one! Lying in a French hospital with a broken back,” driver Anthony Davidson tweeted after suffering fractures to two vertebrae.

Toyota’s other car was pulled out of the race after Kazuki Nakajima collided with the Nissan DeltaWing during a pass attempt. Toyota’s mechanics couldn’t fix car No. 7, and the team was out of the race by the 11th hour.

The winning Audi hybrid is based on the R18 TDI that won Le Mans in 2011, and placed third in this year’s race. The R18 E-Tron Quattro is powered by a 3.7-liter turbodiesel V6, assisted by an electric motor. The diesel powers the rear wheels, while the electric motor powers the fronts. Unlike most hybrids, which carry heavy batteries to store their electricity, the R18 uses a spinning flywheel to keep the juice flowing.Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro front view

Hybrid systems gave Audi and Toyota a couple of competitive advantages. Electric power cuts fuel consumption, meaning fewer pit stops. The electric motors’ low-end torque also helped the cars accelerate faster out of corners. Racing hybrids also draw attention to both companies’ numerous production hybrids.

2012 marked Toyota’s first appearance at Le Mans since 1999, while Audi has won 10 Le Mans races since 2000. In 2006, the German company made the diesel engine into a race-winning technology, and now the R18 E-Tron Quattro’s win is another notch in the company’s belt. “We’re the first to win with a diesel-hybrid car,” said Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Sport. “I think it’s very special because that’s something that will pave the way for the future.”

However, it’s hard to say whether hybrids will take over racing. With 2009 winner Peugeot out of the running, Audi lacked a serious competitor. The third place-finishing R18 Ultra actually set the fastest time, and pitted the same amount of times as the No. 2 E-Tron Quattro.

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for December 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles, as well as bundles that feature games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Cars

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.
Cars

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.
Cars

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…